Morales hired as Sonora's football coach


Daniel Morales was looking forward Tuesday night to making a phone call to his former high school football coach to give him the day's big news:

Morales has been hired as the head coach at Sonora.

"I'm looking forward to having that conversation," Morales said. "I think he's going to be pretty happy about it."

Morales, 30, is a former standout quarterback at La Habra, so his former coach is Frank Mazzotta, the man behind the Highlanders' transformation into a county powerhouse.

La Habra also happens to be Sonora's biggest rival, which, Morales acknowledges, adds an interesting layer to his first job as a head coach.

"Trust me, me and my three brothers all went to La Habra," Morales said. "I definitely had to think about it. But the opportunity to be in the city, work in the community where I grew up, to coach these kids, that was something I just couldn't pass up.

"They've done some special things over there (La Habra), and I'd like to try to do some of those same things at Sonora. I know it won't be easy, but we're going to do everything we can do make it a program that the entire community can be proud of."

Tracking the O.C. football coaching changes

Morales has been an assistant coach the past two seasons at Nogales of La Puente while working to complete his Masters and get his teaching credential. He replaces Paul Chiotti, who resigned in January after 10 seasons as the team's coach.

Morales, who graduated from La Habra in 2003, was MVP of CIF-SS Division IX as a senior. He went on to have two record-setting seasons at Santa Ana College and earned a scholarship to Portland State.

He served as an assistant coach at La Habra from 2007 to 2013 before joining the coaching staff at Nogales.

Morales acknowledged that he has imagined a few times what it will be like the first time he stands on the sideline opposite Mazzota and the Highlanders players.

"But right now I just want to meet our players and seeing what we have to work with," he said. "There's a lot of work we need to do to get where we want to be.

"We want the kids in this community to know they have two outstanding programs to choose from. That's the goal."

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